BONIFAY, Fla. — A man here was arrested after allegedly hitting a homeowner with a hammer and stealing a school bus on Friday.
The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office said that a call came in to its communications center that a subject had been shot and had stolen a bus.
According to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office news release, a man identified as James Irvin Bourgeois went to a residence in the Bethlehem community asking for a ride. When the homeowner denied him, Bourgeois hit the owner in the head with a claw hammer several times, police said.
Bourgeois reportedly ran to the residence next door and tried to enter, but the door was locked. The suspect took the hammer and knocked the glass out of the front door and another window in the front of the house. Police said that the homeowner confronted Bourgeois, who took off running toward Bethlehem School, where he attempted to carjack the mail woman.
An off-duty law enforcement officer was riding by and saw what was happening. He tried to detain Bourgeois, but the suspect reportedly ran to Bethlehem School, where an armed civilian tried to hold him at gunpoint.
According to the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, Bourgeois jumped on a bus that was at the school and started driving down a highway. Several units from the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol got behind the bus and attempted to stop it. Bourgeois reportedly refused to stop, and he drove erratically, traveling in the wrong lanes and head-on with oncoming vehicles.
Police said that Bourgeois also left the roadway several times, attempting to strike deputies.
“Due to the fact that the bus was headed toward Bonifay which could possibly endanger the lives of many citizens and his disregard for lives, the [decision] was made for deputies to get around the bus and position themselves to fire shots at the tires to disable the bus and keep it from making it to town,” the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office said. “It continued until one of the tires came off causing Bourgeois to lose control and [crash into] the woods just before getting into town.”
Bourgeois was taken into custody after reportedly fighting with deputies. He faces numerous felony charges. It was not clear in the news release when or by whom Bourgeois was shot.
Police said that the victim who was hit in the head with a hammer had minor injuries. He was taken to the hospital to be checked out.
In the news release, Sheriff John Tate said that this was "a very serious incident that could have turned out very bad," but he was thankful that there were no serious injuries to anyone involved.